Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.71 Tarpe Mills

No.71 Tarpe Mills

One of the most overlooked figures in the medium, Tarpe Mills was one of the first female comic artists, best known for her own creation, Miss Fury, the first female comic character to be created by a woman. Words: Andrew Colman

Arriving at the birth of the comics industry, Mills wrote, pencilled and inked various characters for early Golden Age publishers like Centaur, before creating Miss Fury. Miss Fury began its lengthy run in newspaper strip form throughout the 1940s before being published in collected format by Timely Comics, over nine issues. A female character that predated Wonder Woman by six months, Miss Fury may have shared similar tropes with other adventure or espionage strips but her femininity was accentuated, making her a breakout property. Her alter ego Marla Drake was a wealthy socialite who fought crime in a form-fitting black costume with a mask – her look, despite owing a little to Batman, was highly influential, as Catwoman (in the 60s) and Black Widow both borrowed extensively from it.

As a newspaper strip, Miss Fury was of a higher standard and somewhat distinct from most of the competition in comics, with better dialogue, plotting and depth of character – she was portrayed as vulnerable, given to moments of self-doubt, fear and even angst. It has been averred by comic historians that due to her eminent fallibility she was a prototype for 60s characters such as Spider-Man (Stan Lee being at Timely when the strip was reprinted). Also, due to her work being published in newspapers rather than comics, Mills was allowed to explore more mature themes, action stylings and artistic tropes, influenced as she was by the legendary Milton Caniff. Furthermore, due to the strip being aimed at adults, it contained many lurid or risqué panels of whips, women fighting, lingerie, bondage etc. This created quite a stir with certain newspapers cancelling the strip. As a fashion illustrator, Mills oversaw the glamorous wardrobe of her creation, veering away from the usual “red or green dress” look so often seen in comics at that time (and indeed into the 1950s).

Overall, Tarpe Mills’s work was certainly more influential than fans of the medium might be aware of, and one could call her a pioneer. Her work on the Miss Fury strip still plays very well as it contains excellent storytelling with a noirish feel and innovative sequences. A classic series that is highly evocative of its era, and certainly worth investigating.

Here’s links through to the other entries in our 101 Greatest so far as well

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.72 Eduardo Risso

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.73 JH Williams III

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.74 Irv Novick

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.75 Dan Zolnerowich

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.76 Gilbert Shelton

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.77 Tommy Lee Edwards

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.78: Sean Phillips

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.79: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.80: Dan DeCarlo

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.81: Marie Severin

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.82: John Paul Leon

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.83: Jim Lee

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.84: Denys Cowan

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.85: Ross Andru

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.86: Paul Gustavson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.87: George Evans

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.88: Michael Golden

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.89: Matt Baker

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.90: Todd McFarlane

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.91: Fiona Staples

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.92: Carl Barks

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.93: Carmine Infantino

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.94: Alan Davis

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.95: CC Beck

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.96: Syd Shores

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.97: Bob Fujitani

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.98: Tim Sale

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.99: Jim Aparo

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-100/

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-101/

 

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No.71 Tarpe Mills One of the most overlooked figures in the medium, Tarpe Mills was one of the first female comic artists, best known for her own creation, Miss Fury, the first female comic character to be created by a woman. Words: Andrew Colman… Arriving at the birth of the comics industry, Mills wrote, pencilled and
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